July 18, 2013

Ethanol in Texas?

By Kim Clark, director of biofuels development

Nebraska is the second largest ethanol producer of ethanol in the nation and Texas….well they are a large oil refiner so why would corn states take an ethanol trip to Texas?  That is what I was asking myself when the idea came about.

Planning for the trip began about 4 months ago with the objectives:
  • Understand imports and exports of ethanol and distillers grains
  • Understand transportation logistics of rail and barge facilities
  • Broaden consumer education and outreach of ethanol

The tours and visits planned during the tour were with Valero, BioUrja, Oiltanking, Magellan, Cargill, and the Port of Houston. 

The agenda was jam packed with visits but nonetheless this past week 16 corn growers and staff members from Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, and Texas participated on the trip.

Some of the interesting take-home points from the trip were:
·         Valero would like to see the RFS amended to meet the actual cellulosic production and the ethanol requirements to meet gas demand since gasoline demand is decreasing.
·         BioUrja buys ethanol from ethanol plants, Oiltanking stores ethanol they receive on railcars or imported on ships, and Magellan transports ethanol and other fuels via pipeline and trucks.  None of these companies are impacted by the RFS; therefore, they are indifferent to what happens.
·         At the Cargill facilities in Houston they mostly export wheat; however some corn and distillers grains leave their facilities
·         Ethanol cannot be transported through pipelines so it has to be trucked in to facilities for usage or put into railcars and transported to export facilities such as the Port of Houston or Oiltanking for storage until it is picked up
·         The Port of Houston is the #1 port in North America for petroleum.  Food and drink followed by Machinery and appliances are the number one and two most imported commodities.  Resins and plastics followed by chemicals and minerals are the top two most exported commodities. 

Overall we heard from everyone that ethanol is a cleaner, safer product and they prefer to handle it over other fuel and liquid products.  We need to continue to fight for the RFS because it is working: it is reducing our dependency on imported oil, creating jobs, increasing national security and more.

This trip was a great precursor for an international ethanol trip to Brazil next year!
Participants on the trip from Nebraska, Iowa,
Indiana, Missouri, Ohio and Texas

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